Loving Alabama parents would do anything to keep their children safe, particularly where drinking and driving is concerned. Baldwin County community leaders are banking on this fact by asking parents to take a lead role in the reduction of underage drinking.
The Drug Education Council and 10 other agencies are teaming up with Baldwin County educational leaders to spark a discussion on the matter. While these initiatives are primarily focused on the harmful effects of underage drinking with regard to house parties, an argument that proactive parenting reduces teenage drinking and driving is easily made by extension.
Since drunk driving fatalities represent nearly one third of all Alabama driving fatalities, parents must ask whether they can help prevent these deaths through active parenting. To answer difficult questions such as these, it often helps to put real faces and data on the issue.
The Senseless Destructiveness of Underage Drinking and Driving
In this harrowing opinion piece, a parent recollects the tragic toll that underage drinking took on his family and the local community. Toni Piccinich was a 19-year-old young woman who was on her way to babysit on a Friday evening on a late August evening in Alabama.
She never arrived at her destination. An underage drunk driver ran a red light and viciously collided into Toni’s vehicle, and Toni was pronounced dead at the scene.
The driver, Christopher Ross, had been celebrating a high school graduation with friends that evening. Christopher’s mother stressed that her son was not a bad child, and she also mentioned that he did not even remember driving. The mother went on to say that she wanted to find out who put the liquor in her son’s hands and who allowed him to drive.
While this was truly a tragic accident for all parties involved, it also can serve as a helpful reminder for the role that parents play in such ordeals. Christopher’s mother, by her own admission, was unable to explain what transpired the night of the accident.
It would not be reasonable to suggest that parents should be able to keep tabs on their children 24/7, 365. However, there was a high school graduation being celebrated that evening. It is reasonable to suggest that parents should be aware of the fact that alcohol would likely be present in such a setting.
This is the type of thinking parents need to keep in mind when staying proactive in the fight against underage drinking.
There are several ways that parents can stay vigilant against these disasters.
- First, parents need to have a discussion with their children. While underage drinking should never be encouraged, children should always be encouraged to contact their parents if they have been out drinking. Instead of driving home or getting a ride from somebody else who is under the influence, parents should be the first line of support.
- Teenagers can be tempted to compound their mistake of drinking with inebriated driving because they fear parental retribution. Being grounded or experiencing some other parental discipline is an easy price to pay if it saves lives. Parents need to instill this principle into their children.
- Finally, parents must keep the lines of communication open and actively monitor their children. Without a consistent and active parenting effort, Alabama parents are increasing the risk of more senseless loss as a result of teenagers drinking and driving.
With a proactive commitment on the part of parents, teenage drinking and driving can be prevented one child at a time.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver in Baldwin, Mobile or Escambia Counties, call 251-943-8638 or contact Noel B. Leonard to receive a legal consultation. Noel B. Leonard works with accident victims every day and will help file your injury claim and fight on your behalf to receive the justice and compensation you deserve.